Where do most expats live in Playa Del Carmen?

Buying in Playa Del Carmen

Where the expats live in Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, is a popular destination for expatriates (expats), and there isn’t a single specific area where all expats live. However, there are certain neighborhoods and areas that tend to be popular among the expat community. Keep in mind that preferences can vary, and individuals may choose different areas based on their needs and preferences. Here are nine areas that have been known to attract expats in Playa Del Carmen and what type of expats live in each area:

1. Playacar:

Playacar is a gated community located south of the downtown. It’s known for its upscale homes, golf course, and a more tranquil environment compared to the town center. Playacar is set up in two phases. Phase 1 is the only places you can have a house on the beach in Playa Del Carmen.  This phase is also smaller and more residential with just a few small hotels. Phase two is larger and has a mix of large hotels, condos and houses. Since Phase one is so close to the beach and popular for rentals, not many people actually live in Phase one. Phase two does get expats that decide to live in Playacar. It is also an area where people buy to rent out their places if they are out of Mexico for a while. Living in Playacar will have you feeling a little removed from the busy center, but you have access to everything with a short drive. 

real estate playa del carmen

2. Centro/downtown:

The central area of Playa Del Carmen, particularly around 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida), is vibrant and popular among both locals and expats. It offers a mix of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Areas of the center fall into two categories, loud areas where there are a mix of tourists and locals, and areas that get some tourists staying and more locals living. Both areas of the center can have issues with sound. Many people when they first visit Playa Del Carmen, they think about this area because it is close to everything, but care should be taken when selecting a place in the center to live. It can be fun to visit, but some parts might not be comfortable for living longer term. Expats living in this area tend to stay part of the year and rent out their places the other months. 

3. Colosio:

This residential area is located to the north of the town center and is known for its more local feel. It has a mix of housing options and is a bit removed from the busier tourist areas. The expats that like this area to live in are usually artist or digital nomads looking for a cheaper rent than the center. The nice thing about this area is it is connected to the downtown and easy to walk or bike from Colosio to the center. This area does not get a lot of people buying to live year-round in this area. Most expats living in this area rent. 

4. Coco Beach:

North of the town center, Coco Beach is an area known for its beach clubs, 4-6 floor condo buildings, and a more laid-back atmosphere. It attracts a mix of locals and expats. This is also a high occupancy vacation rental area. For expats, this area is good for shorter term stays. There are a lot of rentals in this area and close to the beach you have beach clubs that like to have loud music. Expats like this area because it is a little quieter (except near the beach clubs) than the center but still very close. This area attracts mid to upper income expats. 

condos Playa Del Carmen
The Coco Beach area of Playa Del Carmen is mainly 4-5 story condo buildings.

5. Corasol:

On the north end of the center is a large private gated community. This is an upscale area that has condos and standalone homes. Marea Azul is one of the developments there. This area is currently getting some new construction and more options for expats to live. Since this area is one of the more expensive, it does not have a lot of expats living here, but those that do enjoy the beaches and space that this area affords. See our article here about |Corasol and how it is changing. 

6. Fraccionamientos on the west side of the highway:

These planned developments are mainly for lower- and middle-class Mexicans. However, since more expat families have been moving to Playa Del Carmen, these neighborhoods have become attractive for the price that a family can live in Playa Del Carmen. These fraccionamientos come with a lot of special things that you need to know if you are thinking about living in one. See our guide and explanations of these neighborhoods. 

Expats in these areas tend to live year-round. Renting places on a vacation platform is hard because these areas are not close to the beach and people for the most part need a car to get around. 

7. Private gated communities on the south end of town:

These would be ones like Bali, Bosques de Bambu, and La Joya developments. These are all mid-level for expats by costs. These areas have standalone houses and rowhomes. These areas give you good access to Centro Maya shopping center and are closer to more hospitals. Expats living here are mainly living year-round and might have children. 

8. Private gated communities on the north end of town:

These would include Ciudad Mayakoba and El Cielo. These areas tend to be for year-round living or most of the year. It is possible to rent out in El Cielo, for example, but not really for short term stays. These areas appeal to a middle to upper mid-level expat couples. It is necessary to have a car to live in these areas. 

El Cielo Playa Del Carmen
A street in the El Cielo neighborhood of Playa Del Carmen where you can see mixed property types on the same street. This is a popular neighborhood for expats to live in. 

9. Ejidal:

This is the large area around upper Juarez Avenue. This area is mix of local housing and some expats find a street they like or opportunity to buy something. This area is mainly only for expats that decide to live in the area and put down roots. If you move here, you will still have to look a few blocks to find another expat. This area is large and not a large percentage of expats live here. 

Our video about real estate in Playa Del Carmen and some of the better areas

In this video you can see inside some condos and houses to get an idea what different areas are like in Playa Del Carmen. 


Factors to consider when thinking about where to live in Playa Del Carmen

Each person has different circumstances, and these will affect where you choose to live in Playa Del Carmen. Here are a few of the common things to consider when thinking about where to live. 

Will you be living year-round or part of the year?

Expats fall into a couple of different categories. In two general categories, you have people that want to live year-round in Playa Del Carmen. Others like to rent out their units and come visit a few months a year. Depending on your desires, it will dictate where you live in Playa. 

People that want to live year-round will want to choose and area and building that is less in a tourist area or is a building that is not all short-term rentals. Living in a building with lots of vacation rentals means you will have new people all the time and a lot of the time they are in party mode. Often owners look the other way as renters show little respect for neighbors and those living in the building. 

People looking for an investment perhaps and to visit a few months of the year will want to choose and area that is rentable and desirable by tourists. This usually means the downtown area. There are rentals on the other side of the highway, but these are not that popular with tourists and get a far lower rate than in the center. 

What would you like to be close to?

If you want a live in Playa Del Carmen without a car, or just be close for convivence to things, the location you select is important. Most like to be close to the grocery store of your liking, others like being able to walk to the beach or close to a good school if people have children. Analyze what things you want to be close to. Playa Del Carmen is growing, and traffic is more of an issue. It will continue to be an issue as the city continues to grow. 

Walmart in playa del carmen

The cars and no cars expats

Playa Del Carmen is a little unique in the way you can live downtown and not need a car. You might be able to do without a car in some other parts of town, but in general there is a divide between the possible car free areas and car needed areas. This is a big consideration when thinking about where to buy/live in Playa Del Carmen. The one main area that is livable without a car is the downtown from the beach to the 307 Highway and from Playacar to CTM Avenue. 

The other consideration is parking. In the center of Playa there is paid street parking during the day. Having a condo or spot for your car will be necessary. Not all condos are sold with a parking spot. So again, this is another consideration. 

Where is the safest place to live in Playa del Carmen?

Home security is the one thing that is expats should think about when choosing where in Playa Del Carmen. Of all the security issues, home break-ins are the most common thing to happen to residents. See our guide on safety for residents. Most of these are crimes of opportunity, but still, you don’t want to have to deal with it if you don’t have to. 

The safest areas of Playa Del Carmen for living are in upper end gated communities. Some of the communities that are noted as safer areas are:

  • Corasol. The large, gated community on the north of Playa Del Carmen. This area has new condos, houses, a few all-inclusive hotels, and a golf course much like Playacar. 
  • Ciudad Mayakoba on the north end is a large development. 
  • Playacar. On the south end of the downtown this large green gated community houses hotels, golf course, condos and houses. It is upper class but don’t let the gates make you feel totally safe. Playacar is porous and has a lot of traffic in and out. Compared to the rest of the city it is much better, just not perfect. 

What are some of the less safe areas to live in Playa Del Carmen?

Of course, everyone wants to avoid areas that have more problems. In general, the lower income fraccionamientos of Villas del Sol and La Guadalupana are known to have a lot of drama that happens in and around them. But it is not just low-income areas. It is also shoulder areas where new development butts up against local residential areas. In these areas there can be a lot of petty theft and theft of opportunity. An example is the Colosio area where there is a mix of locals and new condos. This area is not the worst by any means, but it does have more problems than other areas surrounding the downtown. 


When considering where to live as an expat in Playa del Carmen, it’s essential to think about factors such as proximity to amenities, lifestyle preferences, and budget. Additionally, it’s a good idea to visit (both day and night) and explore different neighborhoods to find the one that best suits your needs. Most all expats already living in Playa Del Carmen will tell you that you should visit first before taking a decision to move to the area. It is also good to visit at different times of the year to feel what the climate is like. 

More reading on this topic

5th Avenue Playa Del Carmen
No matter where you choose to live in Playa Del Carmen, you will be sure to visit 5th Avenue from time to time. 

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  1. I’m new to the area and I’m wondering if there’s an expat support group? I also need help with finding reliable and affordable plumbers, handymen.

    • For these types of things, the Facebook groups are good to ask for references in real time or search the groups for past questions about the topic you are interested in. Because this information changes so much over time, we don’t keep a list.

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